Why wheel clamping never works
As a driver, I can often be accused of wanting to have my cake and eat it.
I want to know that if I pay for parking but then get held up in a queue at the bank or bumping in to a friend in the street, I will be safe and if I've gone over the parking limit by ten minutes it will be OK. Meanwhile I want my neighbour, who regularly parks in irritating places and tells people it's OK because he'll only be ten minutes, to be fined every day of his life.
There's a reason wheel clamping makes my blood boil in a way non-drivers won't understand: it's because it teaches you a lesson. It teaches you that some rules won't be followed, it teaches you that luck can run out, and it teaches you this by being an absolute nuisance.
In England clamping was made illegal in 2012, because there was a huge problem with 'cowboy' firms. They would buy a piece of land in a city centre, put up huge signs saying 'Three hours free parking', and then tiny small print saying "when you pay for five hours". And they would be hiding behind a wall, waiting to pounce.
That behaviour can kill a city's economy and has no place in society.
Despite this, I have sympathy for some of the genuinely aggrieved landowners. For some reason people have decided that if they find a piece of land, they can park their car there, regardless of whether it's serving a hospital or a shop or anything. Clamping was an effective way of telling these entitled drivers to go away.
On the other hand retail giants with huge car parks that aren't fully utilised for 95% of the year should be reminded who gave them planning permission, and they should be asked to support that towns economy by turning a blind eye to a few people who are trying to visit the town.
This is your problem. When it's me who's in the wrong, I want them to know it's only a minor infringement and they should turn a blind eye. When it's anybody else, they're self-entitled and deserve all they get.
Removing my hypocrisy from the equation for a second, most of us will agree that rules are needed and they need to be enforced.
The question is whether it's fair to teach somebody a lesson by putting their vehicle on display with a big, yellow brand, usually in an awkward position where everybody can shout at you.
I think that's terribly unfair. And that's exactly why the practice should continue: because if car drivers were happy with it, it wouldn't be deterrent.